The Impact of Sanctions on Highly Productive Russian Scientists

The Impact of Sanctions on Highly Productive Russian Scientists

Dezhina I.G.

Dr. Sci. (Econ.), Prof., National Research University «Higher School of Economics»; Head of Department, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Moscow, Russia.

Nefedova A.I.

Cand. Sci. (Sociol.), Senior Research Fellow, Associate Professor, HSE University, Moscow, Russia.

ID of the Article:

For citation:

Dezhina I.G., Nefedova A.I. The Impact of Sanctions on Highly Productive Russian Scientists. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2023. No 12. P. 19-31


The article reviews the effects of sanctions, introduced in 2022, on highly productive Russian scientists. Such scientists play a pivotal role in Russian academia. We formulate hypotheses by analyzing broader context of sanctions, the government response, as well as consider existing assessments of their impact. To provide empirical evidence, we rely on data from a sociological survey conducted in June-September, 2022, as a part of the ‘Monitoring of education markets and organizations’17 project. The group of highly productive scientists included 1,967 individuals falling within the top five percentiles of the RSCI (Russian Science Citation Index). We utilized their responses for further analysis. The survey results indicate that three-quarters of high-performing scholars experienced various types of limitations because of the sanctions. The most significant challenges were associated with economic sanctions, resulting in restricted access to material and technical resources, infrastructure, and information/data repositories. Conversely, the impact of sanctions on international relations and cooperation was relatively less pronounced. In this domain, the effects of sanctions were primarily observed through decisions made by organizations and individuals to terminate or curtail collaborations with Russian scientists, rather than at the state level. Significantly, the group most affected by sanction restrictions comprises internationally mobile young scientists under 35, specializing in natural, technical, and medical sciences, and employed in leading universities and scientific institutions. Consequently, they face the highest degree of vulnerability to emigration, thereby posing an imminent risk of potential brain drain within the Russian scientific community in the nearest future.

sanctions; highly productive scientists; Russian science; science and technology policy; effects of sanctions; Russian science; anti-sanctions measures
Content No 12, 2023